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The new SBTi Net Zero Standard: A watershed moment in the fight against greenwashing

By Will Jenkins
29th October 2021

Originally published on Business Green – read the full article here.

Just ahead of COP26 the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi), the global not-for profit organisation that validates corporate decarbonisation targets, will reveal its Net-Zero Standard. The Standard, the first science-based framework for companies to set net-zero targets and plans, has been in the making for two years and is powerful weapon in the fight against greenwashing.

It finally provides the clarity companies have been looking for, helping to evaluate when a net zero claim is or isn’t greenwashing by stipulating that:

  • Companies must commit to long-term, deep decarbonisation, defined as a 90-95% reduction in emissions across their entire value chain
  • Reliance on carbon offsets or removals is limited to 5-10% of total emissions, and are used for the hardest to abate emissions only
  • There must be external verification of corporate net-zero targets and annual progress reporting

The new Standard provides a clear framework for investors, customers and other stakeholders to hold corporates to account on the effectiveness of their decarbonisation initiatives, and over time will become an expected part of annual reporting and disclosure.

Equally valuable is the Standard’s requirement for near-term 5-10 year decarbonisation targets to be set that are in line with the goal to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5C.

Reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 is really the minimum required to establish the foundations for achieving 90%-plus reductions and net-zero by 2050, or ideally 2040.

Summoning up the corporate energy, will and determination to take this path of genuinely deep decarbonisation can be seen as tougher than looking to offsets and poorly substantiated claims on net zero. But to borrow a quote from John F Kennedy’s famous moonshot speech in September 1962 we don’t choose to follow ambitious plans because they are easy “but because they are hard”.

How can Carbon Intelligence support your organisation?

Our team are ready to help you set near-term and long-term science-based targets and avoid the risk of greenwashing. If you have any questions about the new Net-Zero Standard and would like to speak to a member of our team contact us info@carbon.ci